Monday, August 21, 2017

A woman in India just won a divorce because her husband failed to provide her a toilet. That’s huge.


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It seems funny at first, but very soon you can realize toilets can be a woman's rights issue. It's hard to realize that society's around the world have different customs, some more advanced and some behind the curve. The ability to access a toilet, and a divorce, are basic rights that should be available for every human. That's an easy opinion to have I guess, but how to achieve it. Move too fast with change, and people backlash. But move to slow, and people who need help don't get it. During the early decades of American history in the late 1700s and early 1800s, women didn't have the right to a divorce, much like rural India today. What can the U.S. gain today from this story on how to provide equal opportunities for women in India? For me, I think city, state, and federal government organizations should lead. But I recognize the value of individual people making change in their own families and communities.

After backlash, San Jose reduces number of ‘tiny homes’ sites for homeless


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People want solutions to societal ills. But what a shame when people don't want to be affected by those solutions. The concept of NIMBY (not in my backyard) is a powerful one. End homeless. Great. Providing shelter for them near my house. How dare you?! Homelessness became a larger issue during the industrailization of the U.S. in late 1800s, but we still haven't found that silver bullet to fix it. Would you be willing to have these temporary "tiny" homes near your home/apartment? Me, I would. But I have to admit, with two small children who play outside, it would cause me to be more vigilant. Seems like an simple enough sacrifice to reform a 21st century problem.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Chronicle investigation spurs calls to close foster care shelters


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Charities that provide services for the most needy must serve that population rather than abuse it. Easier said than done when the amount of people that need help surpasses the ability for organizations to provide it. However, to prevent abuse, the government, in this case the city government, should regulate them, providing oversight and protections from misuse. A basic difference between modern day liberals and conservatives was born out of the New Deal during the Great Depression of the 1930s: what about of government response should be provided? Will solutions come from individual ingenuity or state and federal government mandate? In the San Francisco case, regulation failed as it was the free press, a newspaper, that exposed the jailing of juveniles at high rates from these shelters. What do you think? Is the answer more government regulation?

In Barcelona, a heartening rejection of Islamophobia


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The integration of immigrants into a country, providing space to practice home country customs and acceptance into the new country's culture, seems to me to be a much better answer than separation and phobia. The threat of "home grown terrorists" does not change my opinion. The existence of discontented immigrant youth tells me more needs to be done by the home country to provide economic opportunities for immigrants. I'm heartened by the Spanish response to the terrible attack; this somewhat rivals the backlash against Muslims in the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks. Education and discussion are the answers to this threat, in my opinion. You?

Confederate Statues and ‘Our’ History


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I agree with the premise of Eric Foner's editorial here - to remember the past is very different than honoring it. Therefore, Confederate statues and memorials are evidence of praising a certain value system. The question is, do you subscribe to it? If not, then a healthy, democratic discussion must be held about the purpose of continuing their public display. As Foner paraphrased the historian Carl Becker, "history is what the present chooses to remember about the past." What a great quote to help drive home the point of how history is different from the past. While we live in California, separated from the daily reminders of the Civil War (like I witnessed growing up in Tennessee and northern Virginia), it might be hard to see the tension. But with what you know, what should be done with the Confederate statues throughout the country? What about the high schools and roads named after them? A great purge? Keep them? I learned this week that there are statues of 10 ex-Confederates in the U.S. Capitol building. For me, I say get rid of them from public parks and government buildings. Resign them to museums or archives so we can study our past, and how we remembered it decades later.

North Korean threats make Bay Area ponder the unthinkable: a nuclear attack


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So I get the irony that when both sides have nuclear weapons, they won't be used due to the concept of mutual assured destruction established during the Cold War against Soviet Russia. As the nuclear weapons expert said in the article, "The trick is to not have nuclear war in the first place" seems to be so simple but so true. Therefore, actions and statements that heighten the possibility of it, seems not just dangerous but irresponsible to human nature. Trump's statements of "fire and fury" seems to be a poor decision from me, but maybe the strong talk is to scare North Korea to the negotiation table. Let's assume North Korea can't hit the U.S. mainland yet, but what should U.S. policy be to prevent their ability in the future? My simple answer is negotiation even though that will be difficult to achieve. Even so, that's a much better option than a military answer to this threat.

Save Your Sanity. Downgrade Your Life.


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Advancements and innovations have no doubt benefited humankind: the internal combustion engine, electricity, the television, etc. The smartphone is no different, but like any invention, the benefits must outweigh the costs. Of late, I find myself using my smartphone for the wrong reasons and vow to change. Just today, after reading this editorial on my smartphone ironically, I left it at home before going on a hike with my family in Grand Teton National Park. No doubt new gadgets will get made and I'll have to fight the instinct to use them. But in the quietness of nature today, where I saw a black bear mom with two cubs cross a stream while foraging for huckleberries, I realized humanity needs constant reminding about the misuse of modernity. This editorial helped remind me. You? Are we becoming tools of our tools?